Samantha Ippolito, Javits Foundation Public Service Scholarship Winner

Samantha Ippolito graduated this year from Benjamin Cardozo High School and will be attending St. John’s University in the fall. In June, she was one of 10 NYJTL scholar athletes awarded a $5,000 Marian and Jacob K. Javits Foundation Public Service Scholarship. In this essay, Samantha explains why she wants to pursue a career in public service.

By Samantha Ippolito

I would like to pursue a career in public service related to education, specifically a school psychologist. I love teaching and helping children, therefore I am very interested in pursuing that as a career. Psychology is very important. I would like to use that knowledge to help children. Some children have problems at a young age and I would enjoy helping them through their problems rather than them growing. These issues could develop into mental issues if not treated properly.

I have always enjoyed caring for children. I have babysitting experience with two young children at once. One of those two children also had a mental disability, which made the task a little bit more difficult. I didn’t have much of a problem handling this type of situation using my knowledge of psychology by the Advanced Placement course I have previously taken. I knew this child was not much different than others. I was very careful at what I did or said around this particular child, just trying to understand him. His developmental delays made it harder to understand exactly what he wanted, but I managed to come to an understanding with him quite well. I feel that as a psychologist I could be doing more than just understanding children who may have any problems, but help them.

Along with my experience with babysitting, I have also volunteered for many years at NYJTL teaching young children tennis. When dealing with young children playing a competitive sport such as tennis, sometimes they take their anger out on the game or people round them. Besides that there are many incidences where children get into arguments and must be handled. You need to fully understand the child’s problem and with that help them through it. I would love to do this in the future as a career. Children who struggle in school because of outside problems just need to talk or work around the problem. Using psychology could help a lot in those cases.

Pursuing a career in public service related to education will be beneficial in many ways. I feel like with the proper training, I can accomplish a lot in this field. It will help me learn how to interact with children and understand them on a deeper level that will benefit them. It would be a great satisfaction in my life that I would pursue this career.



NYJTL Appoints Joe Ceriello

New York (August 30) –  Joe Ceriello, who developed extensive experience in facilities and program management with the United States Tennis Association (USTA),  has been appointed Interim General Manager of the NYJTL Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning, it was announced today by NYJTL President and CEO Deborah Antoine.

“We are so fortunate that Joe has joined the NYJTL team at this time,” said Antoine. “It is just one year since the Leeds Center opened, and Joe brings a wealth of experience from all aspects of the tennis industry. He will be the perfect complement to further position at the Cary Leeds Center for new growth and expansion”.

Ceriello will oversee NYJTL’s $26.5 million flagship community and tennis center in the heart of Crotona Park finalizing the completion of the two new stadium courts later this fall.

He will be responsible for overseeing daily operations, programming and marketing for the center’s 22 tennis courts, including 10 covered for year-round play, and a community center with classrooms.  As part of NYJTL’s commitment to the local community, Ceriello will administer 6,000 hours of free programming for the Bronx community, which includes 30,000 children living within five miles of the Cary Leeds Center.

For more than a decade, Ceriello worked in several divisions at the USTA including Youth Marketing, Player Development, Professional Tournament Operations and US Open Ticket Operations.

Most recently, he managed the strategic plan and marketing mix for Arthur Ashe Kids’ Days as well as overseeing the Discovery Education partnership and launch of Careers Beyond the Court.  Digitally savvy, Joe developed numerous national digital and video media campaigns and under his direction, USTA’s YouTube channel strategy showed a 133% growth year-to-year.

In 2009, Ceriello opened the USTA’s Training Center-East (TCE) at the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center (NTC). In this role, he managed operations, budgeting and programming.  He launched USTA Player Development’s first fee-based feeder program in collaboration with the NTC designing junior pathway to national success and initiated the Hamptons Pro-Am with the USTA Foundation.

During his leadership, four top 100 American players trained at TCE: Christina McHale, Varvara Lepchenko, Melanie Oudin, and Louisa Chirico.

In 2006, Ceriello joined the USTA’s professional tennis division in the USA Team Events Department.  He focused on domestic operations for Davis and Fed Cup events and for seven years managed the US Open player services area, on-court ball signing, and player ticketing.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to lead the team to maximize the impact of the Cary Leeds Center not only in the Bronx, but throughout New York City,” said Ceriello.

For additional information you may contact Allison Sands at

The 30th Annual Leadership Awards Luncheon Raises over $450,000

30th Annual Leadership Luncheon at Hyatt Hotel

On November 3, 2015, the 30th Annual Leadership Awards Luncheon was held at the Grand Hyatt New York, raising over $450,000 to support our free community tennis programs, tournament team training, after-school programming and other tennis and education activities for children and young adults across the city.

At the Luncheon, Leadership Awards were presented to three honorees: Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, photographer, author and consultant, and two-time Olympic gold medalists Gigi Fernandez and Mary Joe Fernandez. Emmy Award-winning sports reporter Russ Thaler emceed the event, which drew over 300 attendees.

“We are grateful to everyone who attended NYJTL’s 30th Annual Leadership Awards Luncheon to support our enduring commitment to transforming the lives of young people through tennis and education,” said Dr. Deborah Antoine, President and CEO, NYJTL. “Our honorees, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Gigi Fernandez and Mary Joe Fernandez, truly embody our values, and are so deserving of our Leadership Awards.”

Left to Right: Gigi Fernandez, Tajimarie Preddie, Mary Joe Fernandez, Eric Blackshear, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Alex Chiu and Deborah Antoine

National Junior Tennis League Founder and International Tennis Hall of Fame Inductee Charlie Pasarell presented Gigi Fernandez and Mary Joe Fernandez, and New York Times sports columnist William C. Rhoden presented Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe.

“We hope that by being here today to support NYJTL, we can reinforce the importance of what NYJTL is doing to guarantee that tennis and educational opportunities for underserved youth continue to expand in the future,” said Mary Joe Fernandez.

“Our stories are only relevant in so far as they prove that achieving dreams is possible,” said Gigi Fernandez. “We hope to continue to make a difference by working with the USTA to promote Hispanic participation by speakingdirectly to the next generation of players.”

“This thriving organization is a testament not only to tennis and sport, but also an example of what it means to live in America and dream big,” said Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe.

The accomplishments of three of our current program participants were also recognized at the event. The student honorees were Alex Chiu, recipient of the NYJTL Achievement Award; Tajimarie Preddie, recipient of the NYJTL Character Award; and Eric Blackshear, recipient of the Irwin Askenase Sportsmanship Award.

The Luncheon’s event chairs were: Lawrence B. Benenson, Peter L. Malkin and Polly Scott, and event committee members were: Peter Bicks, Carole and Donald Dell, Benjamin Doller, Mark Ein, Lisa Askenase Konsker, Dalia Leeds, Suzanne Lengyel, Stacey Locker, Bernadette Longford, Lauren Mallon, Lawrence Mandelker, Beth and Josh Nash, Missie Rennie, Gordon Smith and Madan Suri.

Pictured left to right: Russ Thaler, Peter Malkin, Lawrence B. Benenson, Stan Smith, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ash, Charlie Pasarell, Gigi Fernandez, Mary Joe Fernandez, Deborah Antoine, Tory Kiam, Polly Scott and William C. Rhoden.

Every dollar raised at the Luncheon will go directly to support NYJTL programs thanks to the generosity of the event’s Presenting Sponsor Lawrence B. Benenson and The Frances and Benjamin Benenson Foundation, who have underwritten the luncheon for the past 30 years. The Arnhold Family also served as a Presenting Sponsor.

The event’s Grand Slam Sponsors were: Tory and Elena Kiam, and CourtSense, The Uehling Family and Zoellner Family. Ace Sponsors were: Caryn and Craig Effron, Deborah Slaner Larkin, May & Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, Inc. Peter Malkin (The Malkin Fund), Sidney Migdon (Goldfarb & Fleece), Jill and Mark Rachesky, Polly Scott and Jim Maher, Steven Simkin (Paul, and Weiss Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP)

To view photos of the event click here.

New York Junior Tennis & Learning is Bubbling with Pride in Crotona Park this Fall Season

This week marks the opening of the indoor season at the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning with the bubbles going up at Crotona Park for the first time.

The two 5-court bubbles were inflated earlier this month at our flagship facility and will remain on site until after the winter season concludes in April. This allows players to practice and compete year-round, and not just during the warmer months.

“Since opening its doors in June, the Cary Leeds Center has become a destination for players of all ages in the South Bronx and beyond,” said Deborah Antoine, President and CEO of NYJTL. “Colder weather shouldn’t mean that on-court instruction ends. Instead, these bubbles allow our programming to take place 365 days a year.”

The $26.5 million Cary Leeds Center opened this June as a result of decades of planning, and a commitment by public and private partners, to create a destination that will touch the lives of an estimated 30,000 students in the South Bronx. NYJTL provides innovative and high-quality programming that helps children grow healthier, smarter, stronger, more self-confident, and become successful on and off the court at the Center, as well as throughout New York City.

NYJTL offers junior programs, adult clinics, lessons and seasonal court time, in addition to free community tennis programs and advanced training programs at the Cary Leeds Center.

You can learn more about the Cary Leeds Center and the programs offered by visiting or contacting the Cary Leeds Center at 718-247-7420.

Mercy College Honors Outstanding Bronx Advocates

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Mercy College Scholarship Recipients pictured with President of Mercy College, Tim Hall.

Last night Mercy College hosted their Annual Leadership Awards Dinner at Marina Del Rey in the Bronx, New York. The night brought together both Bronx natives and Bronx newcomers to honor four outstanding community members who work diligently to strengthen the Bronx Community.

One of the four honorees was NYJTL’s very own President and CEO, Deborah Antoine, who received the award for Youth Advocacy. She was recognized as a leader who has contributed to the success of the youth of the Bronx and who has changed their lives in countless ways, including in the creation of the new Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning.

The Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning was built with a vision to serve the youth of New York City. Built in Crotona Park, in the heart of the south Bronx, the Center houses a two-story, 12,000-square-foot clubhouse and educational facility. The Center offers many programs for both Juniors and Adults, as well as hosts NYJTL’s free community tennis program, advanced training program and more.

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Pictured right to left: Tim Hall, President of Mercy College, Deborah Antoine, President and CEO of NYJTL, Honorable Kathy Hochul, Lieutenant Governor of New York, Bernadette Wade, Mercy’s Chief Advancement Officer, and Lenny Caro, former President of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce.

Fellow honoree Mark Stagg, President and Founder of the Stagg Group, mentioned the joy of walking through Crotona Park and coming upon the Cary Leeds Center, “you could be anywhere, you could be in Westchester… seeing the children playing tennis and the coaches out on the courts with them”.

The energy in the room was contagious and one could not help but get excited for what the future holds for the Bronx community. It was a momentous occasion in which men and women of all ages and backgrounds devoted to strengthening the Bronx, through housing, health, education and tennis, joined together to support each other and mainly Mercy College.

Congratulations to all the honorees!





Fall Festivities in Crotona Park!

Monday may have been a day off from school, but not from fun.

NYJTL served up its third annual Fall Festival in Crotona Park, adjacent to the new Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning.

More than 1,000 students from our ACES Afterschool Programs and Community Tennis Programs, and more than 100 volunteers, including a number of high school students and a crew from New York Cares, turned out for the festivities.

The day was filled with music, dance, games, food, face painting, and of course, tennis. And every student was able to pluck a pumpkin from our pumpkin patch to take home.